On Cusp of 2,000,000 Doses Administered, New Jersey Announces Expansion of COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday morning that the state will expand its eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations beginning on March 15.

Educators and support staff of students ranging from preschool to 12th grade headline the newest group of eligible vaccine recipients. Child care, transportation, and additional public safety workers will also become eligible to receive the vaccine beginning in exactly two weeks. At this time, the following residents are eligible to be vaccinated:

  • All residents aged 65 and older, including those in long-term, high-risk congregate care facilities
  • All health care workers, including those in long-term, high-risk congregate care facilities
  • Residents aged 16-64 with preexisting medical conditions
  • First responders, such as law enforcement and firefighters

New Jersey’s initial goal was to vaccinate 70% of its adult population, or approximately 4.7 million people, within the vaccine rollout’s first six months. The state began administering COVID-19 vaccines in December. Although the state has put nearly two million shots in arms to date, some eligible community members are still struggling to schedule their appointments.

Gov. Murphy is expected to comment more on the next group of community members who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at his regularly-scheduled coronavirus briefing at 1 p.m. on Monday. His state is also on the verge of another vaccine-related milestone: two million doses administered.

New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination totals crossed the one million mark on February 10. As of Saturday morning, the state had administered 1,960,629 doses of the vaccine, and 663,855 people have received both required doses to be considered fully vaccinated. Based on the state’s seven-day average of 46,354 vaccines administered per day, New Jersey seems poised to cross the two-million mark early this week, if not today.

Over the weekend, the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine model. Distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s model, which only requires one dose instead of Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose models, is already underway. Although the new model showed slightly lower total efficacy rates against COVID-19 compared to Pfizer and Moderna’s models (72% vs. 95%), Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine posted 85% and 100% efficacy rates against severe COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and deaths, respectively.

At this time, it’s unclear exactly how many Johnson & Johnson vaccines New Jersey will receive — or how the single-dose model will alter the way the state’s COVID-19 dashboard counts vaccinations.

You can watch Gov. Murphy’s coronavirus briefing, which begins at 1 p.m., on his official YouTube channel.

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